Tag Archives: Philippines

Filipino PWDs this January 2019

The onset of the year has been promising for persons with disabilities in the Philippines.

For one, the education department’s secretary has called on them to register.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones has issued this in DepEd Order No. 3 series of 2018. The Early Registration, which is based on the “Basic Education Enrollment Policy,” covers incoming kinder, grade 7 and grade 11 learners in public schools. Out-of-school children (OSC) and youth (OSY) in the community are also invited as well as those living in an off-grid community, in a barangay without a school, in a geographically isolated area, in an armed conflict area, in an area with high level of criminality/drug abuse, in conflict with the law, and on the streets.

Those displaced due to natural disaster could also register even the victims of child abuse or economic exploitation, stateless or undocumented, and those who are no longer in school but interested in going back to schools.

Letting persons with disabilities study alongside non-PWDs has been my suggestion since February 19, 2016 when I’ve written about Austria and how it’s taking care of PWDs in the country. It has legislated integrative schooling in 1993 during the first eight years of a child. This is also what is being observed in Spain and Malaysia.

The PWD Forum has pushed for the integration of special education in the basic and secondary curriculum in the country. It has reiterated that after The PWD Forum turned one in the blogosphere and even after it turned twoThe PWD Forum has also made a case on the necessity, benefit, and practicality of sign language if only it is taught to every one.

In the Philippines, this has been the case at the Carmona National High School (CNHS) in Cavite. Education is an equalizer, pointed by Atty. Liza D. Corro, chancellor of University of the Philippines-Cebu, in a post.

The government has also implemented the value-added tax (VAT) exemption on sale of medicines—regardless of brands—for diabetes, high cholesterol,  and hypertension as mandated by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, or TRAIN law.

And, most important of all, the law that could provide affordable mental health services for Filipinos–the Mental Health Law (Republic Act 11036)–has been signed after more or less 28 years. It could secure the rights and welfare of persons with mental health needs, provide services for them even in barangays, improve mental healthcare facilities, and promote mental health education in schools and workplaces.

“Disability is one of the many forms in which human life occurs: it should be accepted as such and the people concerned should not be excluded in any way from participating in society.” ~ Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs in co-operation with Österreichische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Rehabilitation

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of GMA Public Affairs

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Job hunting for Filipino PWDs

Persons with disabilities in the Philippines have been given a chance to prove their worth.

In Makati, its deaf-mute residents have been invited in a job fair held at the Activity Center of the Ayala Malls in Circuit Makati. Among of the 26 companies that have been “intent of hiring persons with disability (PWDs)” are the George Optical, China Bank, Regalong Pambahay, Nail-A-Holics, Group Perspective Incorporated, CNT, Guill-Berns, BFL Bookstore, Market Place Christian Church Transport & Multi-Purpose Coooperative, Philippine Survey Research Center, and Receivers and Liquidators. There were also food establishments such as the Samjin Amook, The Burgery, Torch Circuit Lane, Fox Box, Dunkin Donuts, Andok’s Lechon, Rackshaack Circuit, Serenitea, and Mesa Restaurant; shopping centers such as the Mi Department Store, Rustans Super Center, Uniqlo, and Bench; and recruitment agencies Mirof Resources Incorporated and More Than Jobs. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Home Mutual Development Fund (Pag-Ibig), and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) were in the job fair, too.

In Quezon City, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has partnered with the 30 Rotary Clubs of District 3830 to conduct a one-day job fair where private companies and government agencies in Metro Manila have participated. Job-seeking PWDs or employers just have to register at philjobnet.gov.ph. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will also provide livelihood and skills training during the event.

“The special activity will highlight compliance with the law mandating offices of government to set aside one percent of the positions to persons with disabilities. The same law, Republic Act 10524, encourages private enterprises with more than 100 employees to reserve one percent of their workforce to the disadvantaged persons,” the labor department stated in an article.

In Iloilo, seven PWDs have grabbed the chance for a possible employment in a two-day job fair facilitated by the Public Employment Service Office (PESO). A total of 124 companies offered more than around 60,000 job vacancies—most of which are for overseas employment—in malls as service crew and cashiers, in drug stores as sales clerk and pharmacy assistant, and in supermarkets as bagger and cashiers, among others. The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) also joined the event.

While this is a welcome event, The PWD Forum hopes that the private companies that joined the job fair haven’t done so to exempt themselves from labor law compliance inspection for one year. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has promised that immunity in an interview at the Jobs and Opportunities Fair for PWDs at the covered walk of Quezon City Hall.

“The law mandates that employer or business establishments to hire PWDs of at least 1 percent of their business compliment. If there’s a company that will hire more than one percent or will reach 10 percent, I will give immunity from inspection for one year.” ~ Silvestre Bello III

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the International Labour Organization

Preparing for the 2020 Para Games

The Philippines has started preparing to be among the Top 3 winners in the upcoming 2020 ASEAN Para Games in Manila.

“We’re preparing of course for the eventual 2020 hosting of the ASEAN Para Games,” Team Para Philippines chef de mission Francis “Kiko” Diaz was quoted saying in an article.

“Every time we engage and are given an opportunity to play in an international competition, dapat mahigitan na ang past performance natin so ‘pag gano’n thinking, hanggang No. 1, puwede natin makuha,” he added.

The Philippines has been ranked 11th place in this year’s para games with 10 gold medals from chess player Sander Severino and swimmer Ernie Gawilan.

It “leaped” from 23rd place in the 2014 ASEAN Para Games in Incheon.

“We’re looking at grassroots development. We need to improve on some younger players coming in, women coming in, other disability groups that have to be better represented,” shared Michael Barredos, president of the Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC), in the same article.

“It’s going to be a challenge because we will need close to about 200 athletes in the ASEAN Para Games we will host.”

Eleven Southeast Asian countries would be competing for 16 sports in the 2020 ASEAN Para Games in Manila then.

Having said that, the PPC organized “Sports Without Borders,” a series of orientations on paralympic sports with a goal of attracting differently-abled Filipinos into sports.

“I think with this accomplishment and achievement [the national para athletes] have done, [they] will be able to show to all Filipinos that people with disabilities are to be looked at not for their disabilities, but for their abilities,” Barredos added.

“We showed that Asian athletes showed inclusion in the area of Asia, and I think in the Philippines, they have just proven that through sports we can make this an inclusive society.” ~ Michael Barredos

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ABS-CBN Sports

What Lea Sicat Reyes has said

In her column “Insight Avenue,” Lea Sicat Reyes has asked how can disability intervention in the Philippines become accessible to persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the country with limited resources and what should be done about it.

Countries like Vietnam, Togo, and India have successful programs in place that cater to children who live with visual and hearing impairments and other physical, cognitive, and behavioral disabilities,” she noted after mentioning the countries with similar context to the Philippines but have effectively addressed disability- related concerns.

“The Philippines can definitely gain valuable insights from their common practices,” she added.

So Reyes suggested pursuing partnerships between the government and civic groups that have the capacity to empower stakeholders. The Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), for instance, has initiated a program in Vietnam that would “provide an integrated effort to teach deaf children sign language at a very young age, helping them to get ready to learn when they enter formal primary school.” It also funded a program on inclusive education for the PWDs in Malawi which “tests innovative methods to raise enrolment among children with disabilities who are not in mainstream schools and also supports the development of an inclusive education policy.”

Throughout the country, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the LAJ Philippines- LEGO funded the creation of the National Centers for Children with Disabilities in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

Reyes noted, too, that a community-based approach where intervention is concerned is both practical and sustainable. Parents and families must then have a working understanding of their children’s intervention program. The disability-related concerns in the Global South1 should be studied more since “resources are readily available and systems are already in place to provide maximum support for children with disabilities” in the Global North2.

“We can no longer overlook the need to address the plight of children with disabilities in the Philippines. If we continue to allow these to fester, more and more children will be deprived of a chance to have a better quality of life. The time to act is now.” ~ Lea Sicat Reyes

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of unicefphilippines

1The Global South refers “Third World” (i.e., Africa, Latin America, and the developing countries in Asia), “developing countries,” “less developed countries,” and “less developed regions.”

2The Global North is home to all the members of the G8 (United States of America, Japan, Russia, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France) and to four of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

“PWD-friendly” and “disabled persons”

Just how PWD-friendly the Philippines can get?

Not much, Amierielle Anne A. Bulan had said in an article. Her grandmother who had colon cancer and difficulty in walking had to be placed in a monobloc chair and carried by four men (whom her family paid P100 each) to attend to her medical check-up in a six-story building with no elevator in Quezon City. That is far, in Bulan’s opinion, from what the Department of Tourism is trying to convey in its latest campaign: that the Philippines is “destination-friendly.”

But it is trying. The Muntinlupa City has recently partnered with The Birthright Educators Foundation Inc. (TBEFI) and established—finally—a Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO)1. Ten hotels were also recognized for being “barrier-free” and friendly to persons with disabilities (PWD) during the World Tourism Day2 and 15 business establishments were awarded by the Makati City Hall for promoting the rights and welfare of PWDs3.

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) has urged public buses to modernize4. The National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA) has reiterated the importance of facilities like ramps, toilets, and handrails in all public places5.

In the Oxford Dictionary, there is no such term as “PWD-friendly” but “disabled-friendly,” an adjective “that caters to the needs of the disabled, as by offering wheelchair access or services for those with impaired vision or hearing.”6 Recognizing the term, though, could instill the necessary attitudes people must have towards PWDs: thoughtful, tolerant, and instinctive.

“We need to inspire the persons with disabilities to stand up for their rights, and this is one way of exercising that, recognize us as people and not for our impairments,” Leila Benaso

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Harthy Satina

1https://www.muntinlupacity.gov.ph/pwd-friendly-city/

2https://businessmirror.com.ph/19-hotels-recognized-for-being-pwd-friendly/

3http://www.manilatimes.net/15-makati-establishments-pwd-friendly/151967/

4http://news.abs-cbn.com/nation/metro-manila/02/18/16/look-phs-first-pwd-friendly-bus

5https://news.mb.com.ph/2018/02/09/audit-up-for-establishments-to-be-pwd-friendly/

6https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/disabled-friendly

7https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disabled

In the Face of Calamities

Children with disabilities in the Philippines—there are 5.1 million of them to date—are the most vulnerable if there happen to be a calamity or an emergency in the country. They wouldn’t be able to flee; around 1.5 million need assistive devices. They wouldn’t be able to go back to school immediately and they wouldn’t be able to subsist in the sanitation conditions in evacuation centers.1

So, Dr. Renato Solidum Jr., Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction of the Department of Science and Technology, proposed to carry out continuing education and preparation on disaster management in all levels especially those in the most vulnerable groups. He encouraged developing “disaster imagination” to bring about people’s resolve to prepare for any disaster and “disaster preparedness” as a way a life for every Filipino.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council–Office of Civil Defense also endorsed “Lahat Handa,” a training manual that promotes the rights and capacities of children, youth, older people and PWDS.

The ramifications of a typhoon, flood, or fire may linger, said Alex Ghenis of the Berkeley, California-based World Institute on Disability. These may disrupt access to caregivers, assistive devices and medical supplies. A person with a mobility impairment might be less able to escape a storm on their own while a person with a visual or hearing impairment might not receive appropriate evacuation notices. PWDs, therefore, even they have mostly been ignored in scientific literature and policy, will be the most vulnerable during calamities because of falling buildings and environmental pollution.

Good thing, someone has thought of sign language gestures for words like typhoon, storm surge and signal numbers in 2013. Some waterside villages in Tacloban have also planned to raise flags and made announcements over megaphones to alert the deaf and the visually impaired, respectively.

The PWD Forum also hopes that closed captioning will be added to television broadcasts soon. For, as of now, research director Perpi Tiongson of the Oscar M. Lopez Center in Manila has observed that the standard version of Filipino sign language isn’t required to be taught at schools for the deaf yet.

“Some of the children with disabilities wouldn’t be able to duck, cover and hold under tables, so they should identify the safest area in the room, where no debris would fall on them. If they use wheelchairs, they should fix it to ensure stability, and everyone should be informed of their buildings’ respective evacuation routes. They should also pinpoint the safe parts of a building in case of an earthquake.” ~ Dr. Renato Solidum Jr.

1This was noted by Lotta Sylwander, country representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), during the “Emergency Preparedness Forum for Children and Youth with Disabilities.”

2Typhoons could form if the temperature is above 280C (82.40F).

3The figure was from a report of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Notes:

  • Among of the natural disasters that had happened in the Philippines are the Bohol earthquake, (October 15, 2013), Typhoon Bopha (December 3, 2012), Pantukan landslide (January 5, 2012), Tropical Storm Washi (December 2011), Typhoon Fengshen (June 20-23, 2008), Tropical Cyclone Durian (November 25, 2006), Guinsaugon landslide (February 17, 2006), and Tropical Depression Winnie (November 2004).
  • The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) in Western Visayas headed by Melissa Banias of the Capability Building Section has trained more or less 700 individuals from the 14 vulnerable or basic sectors that were identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) on the Philippine DRRM system, different kinds of natural and human-induced hazards, and DRRM applications. They are composed of volunteer groups, persons with disability, farmers, fisherfolk, rebel returnees, and Indigenous Peoples (IP), among others.
  • The Philippines is prone to earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, landslides, storms, cyclones, and depressions simply because it is located just above the equator, where the country faces the western Pacific waters with 280C (82.40F) temperature2. Its hillsides are denuded of forests and it rests on the so-called volcano Ring of Fire.

A lot of Filipinos live on coastal islands, too. The Super Typhoon Haiyan reached 23 feet (7 meters) upon its surge. It rolled over the low-lying parts of Leyte, causing death to more than 10,000 people3.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Edison Jared

UPDATE (October 2, 2018): On average, more than 1,000 lives are lost every year in the Philippines, with typhoons accounting for 74 percent of the fatalities, 62 percent of the total damages, and 70 percent of agricultural damages, according to the World Bank.

Source: GMA News Online

On PADS-Cebu

During the 9th Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Carnival held at Pier 10 of the Central Harbour in Hong Kong, the PADS Adaptive Dragon Boat Racing Team won in the 400-meter standard boat international paradragon division. It topped during the first heat of the race at 1:35 and during the second heat at 1:33.913.

The team bested 160 other teams consisting of 4,500 athletes from all over the world to rule the event for the second year in a row. The second place went to Hong Kong’s Golden Eagle while the third place went to Taiwan’s NAAC Top Brilliances Dragon Boat Team.

It wasn’t the first time the Philippine Accessibility Disability Services (PADS) brought victory to the country in dragon boat racing. The team, which was headed by JP Ecarma Maunes, is composed of 14 men and four women that are either blind, deaf, or amputees. In June 5, 2017, it already competed in the said carnival against teams from Hong Kong, United Kingdom, and Singapore. It won in the final round by seven seconds.

Like other organizations dedicated to PWDs, PADS aims to “enable the PWD community to grow and develop as independent, integrated, fully human and empowered citizens in society” through promoting social inclusion and human rights of PWDs. It has succeeded to (1) increase the participation of the PWD in Filipino electoral and governance processes, (2) educate communities on PWD human rights, and (3) develop opportunities to promote Filipino Sign Language 12 years after it has started.

“We dedicate this victory to the plight of thousands of Filipinos with disabilities. We also want to dedicate this triumph to the Filipinos in Hong Kong who took care of the needs of the team, took a stand to leave their day jobs, and cheered side by side with the team. May this win uplift their hearts and national pride.” ~ PADS

Notes:

  1. The 9th Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Carnival happened last June 22 to 24. It was organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Hong Kong China Dragon Boat Association.
  2. The other teams include those from Australia, Canada, France, Israel, Japan, Korea, Macau and Hong Kong, Mainland China, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Philippines, and the United States.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of MyTV Cebu

UPDATE (August 26, 2018): The Cebu-based Philippine Accessible Disability Services (Pads) Adaptive Dragonboat Racing Team have been recommended by the City Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission to be this year’s recipient of the Modern Day Hero Award.